CAN A MUSLIM AND A CHRISTIAN PRAY TOGETHER?

324(note:  this piece was written in 2014.  As such it is not a “news” item.  However, its subject matter is timeless)

Can a Muslim and a Christian pray together? This is an important question that one has to deal with in his or her mission of Christian/Muslim relations. In the pluralistic world, one cannot completely avoid any level of participation in the worship of the Other. The immediate danger that many Catholic theologians apprehend in such participation is the danger of syncretism. This question becomes theologically nuanced when it has to deal with Christians and Muslims praying together. This article suggests that it is not only possible that Christians and Muslims can pray to one God together, but also, that the aforesaid praying together is essential and should be encouraged.

Christians and Muslims Believe in one God

Christians and Muslims should recognize that, first of all, they worship but one God. They address their prayers to one God in whom both Christians and Muslims place their faith and commit themselves to bend their own wills to the will of the one and the only God. Pope Paul VI affirmed that Muslims are true adorers of the one one God when he wrote: “Then to adorers of God, according to the conception of monotheism, the Muslim religion, especially, is deserving of our admiration for all that is true and good in its . . . worship of God” (Ecclesiam Suam 106).

The recognition of differences is an expression of mutual respect

Nevertheless, one should not forget the considerable differences between the Christian and Muslim confession of God’s unity. The unity of God as a common element between Christians and Muslims needs to be approached carefully for, when Christians talk about God, they talk about one who, “is known and worshiped as Father, Son and Spirit.” Muslims do not accept this Trinitarian understanding of God. Accordingly, the fundamental differences in their understanding of the Godhead should be recognized for the recognition of differences is an expression of mutual respect.

FULL ARTICLE FROM JESUIT.ORG (UK)

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Christian community to build house of interfaith dialogue to fight hatred in Berlin

2018_07_19_49512_1531963536._mediumIn Germany, followers of minority faiths have often faced the bitter experience of hatred and persecution, none more so than the Jewish community, which suffered under one of the darkest times in the world’s history. Today, Muslims are often portrayed negatively in the media, driven by narratives pushed by right-wing politicians.

A Christian community, however, has stepped in to eliminate hatred and to educate society about the peaceful nature of religion, particularly Judaism and Islam. The Berlin-based Evangelical congregation St. Peter (also called St. Mary), along with several Jewish organizations, has founded the House of One where members of different faiths can learn to live together and tackle common challenges in the secular society of Germany.

The concept of the House of One is simple. An iconic pavilion will be built in the center of Berlin, with three sections to function as a Church, Mosque and Synagogue, respectively. Each section will be connected to the others by a chamber at the center of the building where inter-religious dialogues can be held.

“We will put them [the three prayer sections] under one roof but not in one room. All three will live together like a community,” Rev. Eric Haussmann, a pastor at St. Peter, said on Wednesday to a group of visiting Indonesian intellectuals hosted by the Goethe Institut.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE JAKARTA POST 

$65M Tri-Faith Campus Unites Christians, Jews and Muslims in Omaha

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Members of a synagogue, mosque and church in Omaha, Nebraska, will soon be neighbors on a $65 million, 35-acre tri-faith campus in a bid to promote understanding and “a new vision of peace.”

“It’s a remarkable project, arguably the largest project in interfaith cooperation globally,” the Rev. Bud Heckman, executive director of the Tri- Faith Initiativetold the Independent Tribune this week. “It’s very bold and ambitious for the people of Omaha to think big like this and to build something on this scale.”

In 2009, Temple Israel, Countryside Community Church, and The American Muslim Institute went public with their vision to establish a joint campus at a banquet called “Dinner in Abraham’s Tent,” alluding to the connection all three faiths have with the biblical Abraham.

The vision for the initiative was sparked on 9/11, according to the Tribune, when Rabbi Aryeh Azriel of Temple Israel gathered congregants to help defend a mosque after the terrorist attack. Moved by the gesture, Muslims soon began engaging members of the synagogue at picnics and discussions. Five years later in 2006, they began privately considering building houses of worship together and find a Christian partner to help.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE CHRISTIAN POST 

Indonesian Muslims defy extremism by marking Holy Week

1522658645Muslims across Indonesia joined Christians in celebrating Holy Week, providing a welcome boost to those trying to preserve and promote religious tolerance amid growing fears of extremism.

Many photos and videos showing Muslims at churches were posted on social media over Easter.

At St. Francis Xavier Cathedral Parish in Ambon, in Maluku province, dozens of young Muslims performed dances during a procession on Good Friday attended by Bishop Petrus Canisius Mandagi of Amboina and other religious leaders.

Bishop Mandagi said the presence of Muslims showed a determination among people to maintain a brotherhood among different religious communities.

“This is an example of where religion becomes a unifying tool and this religious celebration becomes a bridge to strengthening relations,” he told ucanews.com on Easter Sunday.

Saidin Ernes, from the Ambon branch of the Ulema Council — Indonesia’s top Muslim clerical body — said they wanted to “show that there is a strong fraternal relationship between religious believers in Maluku,” especially among Muslims and Christians.

A photo showing Muslim youths at the Christ the Redeemer Catholic Church in Sentani, Papua was also circulated online.

They held banners that read Happy Easter for Christians. “Let us both maintain the integrity of our fellow religious believers.”

In Central Java, students from State Institute of Islamic Religion in Salatiga sang at the Java Christian Church during Easter celebrations on April 1.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Governor Anies Baswedan attended Easter celebrations with thousands of members of the Indonesia Bethel Church.

FULL ARTICLE FROM UCA NEWS

This Easter, a Group of Muslims in Australia Will Attend Mass — as They Have for the Past 13 Years

christians-muslims-dialogues-in-pakistanThis Sunday, Catholic churches across Sydney, Australia will bear the usual signs of Easter: incense, fresh flowers, a lit Paschal candle — and a few rows of churchgoers wearing kufi and headscarves. Every year for the past 13 years, groups of Muslims have attended Easter Mass in the Sydney Archdiocese and Broken Bay Diocese.

It all started around 2001 when a group of Gülen Muslims who had immigrated to Sydney from Turkey sought to dismantle animosity in their new home. For the group, who practices love of the creation, sympathy for the fellow human, compassion, and altruism, one way of coping was to actively foster understanding among Christian faith groups. So, they called the Catholic Dialogue and Interfaith Office of Sydney and explained that people were pulling veils off of Muslim women, spitting at them, and attacking them. The Director of the Office, Sister Trish Madigan, O.P., sprung into action. A Dominican Sister of Eastern Australia and Solomon Islands, Sister Trish holds a master’s in Ecumenical Interfaith Studies with a focus on Islam from Trinity College and a doctorate in Arabic and Islamic studies from the University of Sydney.

FULL ARTICLE FROM SOJOURNERS MAGAZINE 

For the first time, Christians and Muslims to celebrate the Annunciation together in Amman

2848191871522126126The event is set for this Wednesday with government, religious and civil authorities present. For the patriarchal vicar to Amman, this will be part of the “theological, religious, spiritual dialogue” that accompanies everyday life. “We want to show the common points between Christians and Muslims, concerning the event of the Annunciation, in which even Muslims believe,” he said.


AMMAN: This year, Jordan will hold its first interreligious celebration on the feast day of the Annunciation of Mary. On Wednesday, 28 March, government and civil authorities, Muslim religious leaders, Christian bishops and ordinary believers from both faiths will gather in a large hall in the capital to mark the occasion.

The event will serve to highlight “the importance of Mary in the Qur??n, and the value of the narrative of the Annunciation in the Gospel of Luke,” noted Mgr William H. Shomali, patriarchal vicar of the Latin Patriarchate in Amman.

In doing so, “We want to show the shared points between Christians and Muslims, concerning the event of the Annunciation, in which even Muslims believe.”

For the past 12 years, the feast day of the Annunciation on 25 March has been a national holiday in Lebanon, a day off for everyone and an important moment for dialogue between Christians and Muslims.

FULL ARTICLE FROM THE MALAYSIA HERALD 

Saudi Arabia scholar issues fatwa, says Muslims may pray in churches and synagogues

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A top scholar from Saudi Arabia has said that Islam is a religion of tolerance and mercy and that Muslims should spread true Islam and should be tolerant in their treatment of people from different religions.

Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al-Manea, a member of the Council of Senior Scholars, said that Islam does not support violence, intolerance or terror. Al-Manea gave a fatwa (religious advisory opinion), stating that Muslims may pray in Shiite or Sufi mosques, churches or synagogues, according to reports by Al-Anba’ Kuwaiti newspaper.

He added that all the land belong to God and cited the Prophet’s words:  “The earth has been made a place of prostration and a means of purification for me.”

The Saudi scholar said that Islam is a religion of tolerance that Muslims cannot have differences in the basic principles of Aqidah (creed) of Islam, but they may differ in the branches, according to Arab News reports.

Citing an occasion where the Prophet received a delegation of Christians from Najran in his mosques, and allowed them to perform their own prayers, Al-Manea said that this is how non-Muslims should be treated by followers of Islam. He also cited several other sayings of the Prophet which reflected his kindness and mercy on non-Muslims.

The scholar said that Islam spread in several countries like Indonesia and Malaysia, because of the good manners of Muslim merchants. He said the behaviour of the merchants attracted the citizens of these countries to embrace the religion.

FULL ARTICLE FROM INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS TIMES